Penn women's basketball's freshman guard Mataya Gayle is announcing her presence on the court in declarative fashion, as she starts her collegiate career off earning recognition for her play in multiple weeks.
Gayle was recognized as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week in back-to-back weeks following strong performances against Maine, Gwynedd Mercy, and Columbia. It is the fourth time Gayle has won the award so far this season.
For her performances against Maine and Gwynedd Mercy, Gayle was awarded the Big 5 Player of the Week as well as the Tamika Catchings National Freshman of the Week by the United States Basketball Writers Association, the first Quaker to do so since Kayla Padilla in 2019. Gayle averaged 21 points and just under four assists across both games.
Gayle’s impressive confidence as a rookie has led to her climbing the rankings to sixth in both Ivy League points per game and assists per game. Head coach Mike McLaughlin has entrusted Gayle with creating her own offense, as well as providing good looks for stalwarts junior guard Stina Almqvist and senior forward Jordan Obi. Despite being the shortest player on the team at 5-foot-7, Gayle's impact stands tall as her presence has elevated the team and brought high expectations for the Quakers' season.
Going into the season, the biggest question for Penn women’s basketball was how to replace the production of Padilla. Gayle has answered that question emphatically, and looks to continue her impressive week-to-week performances as the team heads deeper into the Ivy League schedule.
The Red and Blue currently stand at 2-1 in Ivy play, and look to add to the win column versus the Harvard Crimson on Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. After losing on the road versus Harvard last year, the Quakers will be looking for their revenge this upcoming Saturday at Lavietes Pavilion.